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Johnny Depp stars in an ode to the old west in animated form (VIDEO)

  • Rango in "Rango."
  • The Mariachi Owls in "Rango."
  • Priscilla in "Rango."
  • Rango in "Rango."
  • Rango
  • The Mayor in "Rango."
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Dirt is a town that is having a water shortage (well, they are in the desert). Rango is a pet lizard enjoying an easy life, until a near car accident throws his aquarium onto the street and into a new and unfamiliar situation. The animation is so amazing and detailed. Sometimes you want to go see a comedy again because everyone laughed so hard you missed the next few lines. With this movie, you want to see it again to look at some of the details you may have missed. There’s a scene where you see a graveyard, and Rango catches a tombstone that says “Sheriff Amos, Thursday – Sunday.” It makes you wonder how many other visuals you may have missed by looking at something else.

Two different times Ned Beatty, as the voice of the old turtle, mentions Deliverancein a speech to the town of Dirt. There are so many movie references in Rango that it’s a must-see for anybody that’s a film buff. Sure, everyone will get the references to Spaghetti westerns, Apocalypse Now, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, and Blazing Saddles. I’m guessing most will miss the High Noon, Coen brothers, and Chinatown ones (the movie actually takes lines directly from Chinatown, as the story is about corrupt government controlling the water and power, while the new sheriff in town investigates).

And most people won’t even recognize the amazing talent brought together to do the voices. Bill Nigh as Rattlesnake Jake, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Ray Winstone (always a great heavy, even in animated form), Charles Fleischer (he was Roger Rabbit), Alfred Molina as an armadillo (or road kill), and one really interesting choice – Harry Dean Stanton!

Director Gore Veribinski has given us the very overrated Pirates of the Caribbean films, and he brought Johnny Depp in to play Rango. Depp does a great job with the voices. I’m guessing at this point, he’s exhausted every weird voice he can do. A nice tip of the hat to Depp’s character of Hunter S. Thompson pops up, too. It’s one of many references that will go over kids heads.

Various critics are going out of their way to say this isn’t a kids movie. Well, it did get a PG rating (one girl is about to be strangled by a snake and she says “Go to hell!” Another character asks a mannequin “Are those real?” before getting slapped). For kids 12 or older, and all adults, this is a very enjoyable time at the movies.

This movie isn’t as good as Up, but there was a scene that reminded me of it. This was certainly a better western than True Grit. And without it being in 3-D, you save a few bucks. Ignore the critics that claimed the creatures were too ugly to love. Every one of them was great, including the naked mole rat trying to rob the town bank.

Waiting to hear if Los Lobos is sued for ending the movie with a song that was a direct Dick Dale rip off. If Huey Lewis can win a lawsuit (Ghostbusterstheme) surely Dale would. I’m giving it a B.